For the past 3 weeks I have been planning a surprise party for Tom's 91 year old father. He lives in a senior apartment complex. It is a very nice place, very reminiscent of an up-scale hotel. He lives in a 1 bedroom apartment and dines with the other "Inmates", as he calls them, in the main dining room. Since moving in, he has become great friends with many of the other "Inmates" and has even found himself a darling "Lady Friend".
A few weeks ago, someone asked "How do you handle food for gatherings/holidays?". I mentioned that I cook as usual, but Tom and I just eat less and enjoy the company more. But with this event having just happened, I thought I would expound...
The party was yesterday. At "The Home", as many of the "Inmates" call the complex, they have a happy hour every day at 4:30. They meet in the lobby bar and share a cocktail hour before going to dinner. This is where I planned the party. I called the family and got them organized then made invitations that I delivered to the complex and the staff passed them out for me. This was a surprise party, and I held my breath thinking that one of the "inmates" might slip and tell Dad-in-Law, but they all behaved very well.
I made simple appetizers and got a yummy store-bought cake. Our ex-wife brought finger sandwiches and a tuna salad with assorted cheese and toppings. I made tomato/mozzarella skewers, a shrimp mold, bought a veggie tray, and made a sugar-free punch.
We arrived at "The Home" and Sue and I did the setup. People started arriving and the staff started pouring cocktails. Sue and I were the greeters and Tom was with his Dad in his apartment so he would not wander out early.
At the appointed time, I called Tom and he brought DIL to the party. He was surprised alright. Even with everyone singing "Happy Birthday" and saying his name in the song, he thought it was all just a festive happy hour. Then Tom told him it was a surprise party for HIM, and pointed out that the entire family was there to share with him. I think he was very tickled.
Sue and I made plates for the less-mobile folks. And we all circulated, ready to assist when needed. Each resident brought a card, some brought gifts and a good time was had by all. Being a bit worried that dinner would not happen if we continued to feed them, we did the cake and candle blow-out and they all moved to the dining room for dinner. Tom and I carried the cake to the dining room and the staff was more than happy to cut cake and served it after dinner.
Tom and I were very involved at the party. He snacked a few appetizers and I had time for a glass of the blueberry lemonade punch. But for the most part, we circulated and chatted and assisted as needed. Neither of us felt deprived, and we came home comfortable, not queasy.
This was our first out-of-the-house party. I was a bit nervous that one of us might get sick when we tried this....but all was fine. And Sue was a fantastic support, not only to fussy me when the family was running late, but to the "Inmates" who absolutely adore her! One of the residents told another that we were Tom's Wife and Sister....well, I think of Sue as a Sister, but she is really more Wife than sister, but I was not going to cause a heart attack with that crowd!!
We cleaned up, put the lobby back to order, and decorated his apartment with the balloons and all of his lovely cards.
A good time was had by all!